Lily Conroy- CORE Essay

In this course, we read The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin, which takes place in a far-from-future world. The world has periods of devastating storms, starvation, volcanic eruptions, and several other seismic events that it nearly impossible for humans to survive; they are defined by recurring “Seasons’” in this world.  In my earlier Lithosphere essay, I delved into N.K Jemisin’s first book in the trilogy, “The Fifth Season” and I explored how the control of science and myth can contribute to the dominance over the people, and cause racialization, distribution of classes, and genderization certain groups of people within my essay.  When I constructed the Lithosphere essay I was only focused on understanding the elements I listed above and how they may have created systematic inequalities and injustices in the continent of the Stillness. I analyzed the misconceptions of the Orogene abilities how the Orogenes were racialized by institutions like the Fulcrum and how it can contribute to harsh structures within the first book in the trilogy.   

As I reread and reflected on my thoughts in the initial essay with thinking, I realized that my thinking had shifted as I moved through the trilogy and reached the core of the trilogy.  One of the shifts of my thinking is diving deeper into the understanding of how the elements of racialization, distribution of class, and gender grouping are not just all separate experiences or incidents in the trilogy, however, view them as connected parts of a broader oppressive and power structure. In my first essay, I mentioned how the slang is used to define orogenes and how it shows how racially discriminated they are by using a quote from the first book  “’ You’re a rogga,’ Asael snaps, and then has the gall to look surprised at herself.“(Jemisin Fifth Season, page 216). As I kept reading the trilogy I noticed that the slang term is still being used “Months in my comm, and still all you are is ‘just a rogga.’”(Jemisin The Stone Sky 384 online) This demonstrates that there is a continual theme of racialization and discrimination throughout the trilogy and how it’s shown to be a bigger issue.  It also illustrates how fundamental prejudices are generally ignored even when circumstances and characters evolve over time. You can demonstrate how Jemisin illustrates the ongoing problems experienced by oppressed groups through the language that is being used by drawing a connection between these two quotes. Throughout the trilogy, “rogga” is used repeatedly by various people and settings, serving as a reminder of the prevalence of prejudice and the systems of oppression. This is only one example of how continual acts of oppression are not essentially isolated incidents that certain groups of people are going through. 

I have gained a new understanding of the orogeny myth’s important role in upholding oppressive systems through investigating this idea. Although orogeny was originally connected to racial classification, further reading into The Broken Earth Trilogy has shown that it also has an impact on power structures and social standards in the Stillness universe. The myth of orogeny covers both economic and political power in addition to justifying the ruling class’s exploitation of orogene abilities. I have gained a deeper understanding of the complexity present in systemic injustices by observing the relationship between myth, science, and power relations through my analysis of the trilogy.

Syenites’ story of responding to the prejudice and injustices demonstrated in the book is a complicated example of how diverse reactions are taken. First of all, the young orogene is depicted as someone trying to function within the institution of the Fulcrum.  Syenite demonstrates her determination despite these challenges by following her path and challenging the constraints of the Stillness society. Again, An example of Syenite’s strength is her ability to resist the oppressive narratives that were imposed upon her. She doesn’t agree with Fulcrum’s claim that these ideas and myths are the source of their control and weakness. The ability to use self-awareness allows her to get through the power struggles while maintaining her individuality and freedom as an individual with a range of experiences and skills. Her stories expose the harsh realities of oppression while also highlighting the resilience of marginalized individuals living within those constraints. Furthermore, the quote “It’s been a challenging forty thousand years”(Jemisin, The Stone Sky 2118 online), captures the larger picture of adversity and perseverance faced by both the Earth and individuals like Syenite. This quote represents Syenite’s path of overcoming adversity and fighting against an oppressive system while also thinking back on the challenges she and others have faced over the years. Like Syenite and the others challenge the oppressive myths that were imposed upon them, the society in the books maintains a past of exploitation demonstrating themes of resilience throughout all parts of the narrative.

The course epigraph we read at the beginning of the semester emphasizes how race-making functions such as political and strategic processes to uphold power and wealth differences through the disparities is resonates with the themes throughout the Broken Earth Trilogy.  This viewpoint also goes along with my changing or developing thoughts from the beginning to the end of the Trilogy.  The epigraph also touches on the aspects that are related to the Broken Earth Trilogy examination of how power dynamics, myth-making, and racialization of certain groups are all interlocked and branched off the bigger picture of control.  As I reread the course epigraph at the end of the semester I came to realize the importance and connection it had to the books we have read and the course as a whole.  

In conclusion, reading The Broken Earth Trilogy has changed teh way I think about the ideas that were covered in the books as well as the course. I now dont look at these issues as stand-alone thoughts but now as an essential component of the bigger picture of oppression and resilience.  This change of thinking highlights the depth of Jemisin’s writing and story and encourages the reader to dive deeper into how myth, science, and societal structures influence individuals and group experiences.


Jemisin, N. K. (2016). The fifth season. Orbit.

Jemisin, N. K. (2017). The stone sky. First Edition. New York, Orbit.

Lithosphere Essay- Lily Conroy

⁤In “The Fifth Season,” N.K. ⁤⁤Jemisin carefully integrates racial, scientific, and mythological elements to create a story that speaks about present-day concerns. ⁤⁤There are numerous powerful instances of structural and systemic injustices throughout the book. ⁤⁤”The Fifth Season” provides many instances that highlight systemic inequality.  “The Fifth Season” provides many instances that highlight systemic inequality. This type of inequality is created by a combination of rules, norms, and attitudes within institutions like workplaces, schools, and politics, leading to entrenched patterns of discrimination(Africa, 2021).  The manipulation of myth and science via characters within the book serves as a aid for racializing orogenes, individuals with the ability to manipulate geological forces. 

The myth surrounding orogeny in “The Fifth Season” serves as a foundation for the racialization of orogenes, especially in the context of the Fulcrum’s control over them. The quote by The Fifth Season, “This ability that gets more Orogene children killed than anything else”(Jemisin page 106). This relates to the impact that orogenes’ power has on the society, which can be very difficult for the people with no power who live there. This contains the brutal truth or reality that supports the story’s orogeny myth. Due to the Fulcrum’s control over the orogenes, they are racialized based on the myth.  The Fulcrum claims that they are trying to protect the people or the  society from the dangers of orogeny by presenting it as a heavenly benefit for the selected. Representing the orogeny as a “gift” from gods makes sure that the Fulcrum’s as the only “guardian” of orogene power and knowledge.  The myth of orogeny not only gives orogenes a false sense that they could be considered superior, but it also promotes a myth that an orogene’s value is based solely on their skill and powers they may have. The Fulcrum defends its authoritarian rule over orogenes as necessary for the better welfare of society by portraying orogeny as divinely prescribed. One of the main characters in the book, Damaya is was indoctrinated into the Fulcrum. After that happens she shortly learns the importance of controlling her orogeny and repressing her emotions in order to assist society. The novel uses the Fulcrum to maintain the myth of orogeny in order to support the oppression of orogenes. This myth is also promoting the unequal distribution of power in society. While readers dive into the book they can relate and compare the story’s evidence to oppression and racialization into the real world we live in.

In “The Fifth Season,” scientific explanation is falsely skewed to keep orogenes suppressed. The Fulcrum justifies the subjection of orogenes by reinforcing the idea that they are basically different from the general population by characterizing orogene powers as unnatural. In the book the ability to regulate geological forces, sometimes known as orogeny, is portrayed to be harmful and regulated by rigid limitations. The Fulcrum tries to uphold the idea that orogenes are fundamentally unstable due to their powers and need be closely watched at all times for the safety of society. This false narrative is used to defend orogenes’ exploitation and abuse, portraying their abilities as a threat rather than a natural part of existence. Orogenes are subjected to a variety of experiments and exploitation in the interest of scientific advancement. Often without the orogenes consent, the Fulcrum studies orogene skills in an attempt to better understand and apply their abilities to benefit the Fulcrums benefit. The use of orogenes as tools by powerful individuals and groups to achieve what they want goes beyond the Fulcrum. Science turns into an oppressive tool that enables the powerful to take advantage of orogenes’ skills for their own advantage.

Racialization is a major issue in the book since it looks at the exclusion and discrimination experienced by some groups such as the Orogenes due to their differences. The Orogenes are portrayed as an unique and face discrimination and violence since the society views their abilities as odd and dangerous. The slang used to define orogenes shows how racially discriminated they are. ““You’re a rogga,” Asael snaps, and then has the gall to look surprised at herself.”(Jemisin, page 216). The character speaking, Asael, calls Syenite “rogga” to belittle her.  The slang word “rogga” is a derogatory nick-name for orogenes.  It’s used, like a racial slur, to make fun of and treat those who have powers over others. Asael’s use of this word demonstrates prejudice and hatred against Syenite due to her orogene status. In respond to, Syenite says, “At least that’s out in the open.” (Jemisin, page 216). Syenite’s reaction shows how determined she is in the face of discrimination. Despite being offended, she responds sarcastically and maintains her composure. Her statement implies that, as an orogene, she is used to coping with such discrimination and prejudice.  Syenite acknowledges the hatred directed at her by her reaction, and she advises that it is best to confront such prejudices directly on rather than allowing them to go silent and keep happening. This exchange demonstrates how common discrimination and prejudice against orogenes are in the world of “The Fifth Season.” Syenite’s response reveals her strength and resilience in the face of such adversity.

In “The Fifth Season,” N.K. Jemisin shows myth, science, and racialization to create a narrative that realistically exposes real-world injustices. By examining racialization, diving into systemic inequalities and playing with myth and science, Jemisin effectively conveys the impact of discrimination on society. The mythos surrounding orogeny promotes the racialization of orogenes by spreading the idea that orogenes are naturally harmful by the Fulcrum. Also, incorrect scientific explanations reinforce the misleading narrative of orogene instability, leaving people vulnerable to manipulation by the powerful elite. The key theme, racialization which emphasises the hostility that orogenes face as a result of perceived inequities.  One example such as the interactions like the one between Syenite and Asael, the verbal mistreatment and hatred directed against orogenes indicate how common discrimination is in their society. despite this interaction, characters such as Syenite exhibit resilience and resolve in strongly opposing the prejudice. “The Fifth Season” provides an insightful remark on the complicated concerns of power, inequality, and resilience in society through its delicate analysis of these topics. By encouraging readers to think about and look at similar systems of oppression, Jemisin’s narrative develops compassion and understanding for underprivileged groups in the world we live in. 

Works Cited 

Africa, A. for. (2021, October 15). What are systemic inequalities? – alliances for Africa. AFA.

Jemisin, N. K. (2015a). The fifth season: The broken earth, book one. Orbit.